We're in a race against time this week, nine of us gathering at Scorton Picnic Site to tackle the Himalayan Balsam, which was our focus last session.
Three weeks on, with warm and damp conditions, the balsam has thrived, now tall and healthy along the banks of the River Wyre. Any day now, the seeds will be ready to disperse so we need to destroy the balsam (please see last session's diary for an explanation of why this lovely plant is such a baddie), cutting back overhanging branches and brambles along the footpath.
We walked from the same spot yesterday and somebody commented that removing balsam is a battle already lost as it spreads so extensively. Look at the photos which show how much can be disabled in a couple of hours. Working together, we shifted a huge area of balsam, so it's like the old adage, "Can you eat an elephant?" First response would be "No", but even the biggest job can be conquered if approached bit by bit and keeping at it. Whilst some of us had expected our remit should be mending stiles and gates, at this time of year, cutting back is the priority and makes a big difference to footpath users.
Next session, July 28, we will be at the same site with supper at the New Holly again.
Getting stuck in. Left to right, June, Judith, Chris, David B, Gina, Betsy, Wyre Ranger Duncan, John, with David S. in the background, already engrossed
John makes a start pulling out the balsam, already over seven feet high, and breaking the stalks to kill the roots and prevent seed dispersal.
Many hands make light work
The footpath is thick with nettles and brambles, too, so progress is made on many fronts
The balsam is hung across the tree branches, out of harms way, where it will die
The River Wyre beside the footpath would disperse the balsam seeds a long way downstream
I had likened the balsam control to eating an elephant but it wasn't on the menu at the New Holly. David's meal was another successful challenge conquered and the pub suppers are proving a pleasant end to the evening for relaxation and discussion.